John Edward Fedyszyn was born on Flag Day, June 14, 1949. He is the son of the late John B. and Elizabeth (Bentley) Fedyszyn. John attended Dunkirk Senior High School and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 17 while still a senior in high school. He wanted to enlist to help the women and children of Vietnam and become a United States Marine. He left for boot camp the morning of his high school graduation in 1967 and was part of Platoon 1001. John was a Corporal, pay level e-4.
From Boot Camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, John spent time at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, then off to Camp Pendleton, California, for Telephone Communications School. After staging battalion, he was sent to Okinawa to be retrained as a Field Radio Operator. John arrived at DaNang, South Vietnam, on December 17, 1967, and was assigned to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, stationed at Camp JJ Carroll near the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Upon arrival, he was assigned as a Field Radio Operator on a forward observer team. His duties were to call in artillery strikes on enemy targets and positions. He spent time walking patrols with various units including the 3d, 4th, 9th and 26th Regiments. John participated in patrols along the DMZ, Rockpile, Khe Sahn, Hill 881, South Con Thien, Giolinh, A3, A3a and Con Thien.
John participated in Operations Lancaster, Dye Marker, Lancaster II, Rice, Regasus, Scotland II, Dual Blade, Robin South and Kentucky. He was wounded in May 1968, Operation Rice, near Quang Tri.
Military awards include the Meritorious Unit Commendation with Ribbon Bar, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Stars, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Color), and Purple Heart.
During my interview with him, I learned that while in the military he received basic training in boot camp on Parris Island, Jungle Survival, training in Vietnamese customs, radio school and many individual fire arms such as the .45 pistol and the M-16 assault rifle. He served in Vietnam for 13 months and 13 days. He described a day-in-the-life of a soldier trying to stay alive and do whatever it took. He had to depend 100 percent on the Marine who was next to him ... you knew he would do whatever he could to save your life. Deaths were expected every day.
John lived on base in the states. In Boot Camp, he stayed in sand-bag bunkers and, while in Vietnam, lived mainly in fox-holes. When asked how his military service affected his life today, John recalled walking in areas sprayed in Agent Orange. Agent Orange led to over 19 surgeries for nerve damage. Witnessing the effects of what war brings affects you every day.
John did not eat any of the local food or experience any of the local culture. While in the field, you only ate C-rations. Only while on NVA areas, one would try local food. When operating in Viet Cong areas, you never took a chance. While stationed in Free-Fire Zone, no locals were allowed to walk there. Anyone was presumed to be the enemy and would be eliminated. While out of the FFZ, people would get out of your way.
John was discharged at Treasure Island, Calif., January 1969, with the rank of Corporal. He returned to Dunkirk, and married Darlene Wolfe. Together, they have four children Kimberly (Erik) Ellis, Julie Fedyszyn, Jennifer (Brad) McIlvain and John R. (Joy) Fedyszyn, and grandchildren JJ, Jordyn, Brandon, Jack and Cora Anne.
John was employed by Niagara Mohawk as an electrician and retired in April 2000. John enjoys his retirement in The Villages, Fla., and is currently a contributor to the OBSERVER series, "In Honor ... A salute to area war veterans. He is also an active volunteer at the Dunkirk Lighthouse.
John keeps in touch with friends he served with now living in Seattle and the state of Texas. John returned to Vietnam 4 years ago. He says all signs of war were removed as if it never happened.
John's father, John Bernard Fedyszyn, also served his country. He was an LST sailor who served in World War II during Operation Tiger, the rehearsal for the landings for the D-Day Invasion. John B. Fedyszyn's LST 507 was hit by a German submarine torpedo and was sent to the bottom of the English Channel. He was one of 17 sailors who survived that attack. He later served in Korea.
John's son, John Robert Fedyszyn, served his country in the United States Army. A Fredonia High School graduate of the Class of 1993, he took his Boot Camp at Fort Leonard Wood. After his boot camp and engineering training , he was shipped to South Korea and did a tour at Camp Castle. When his military obligation was completed, he came back to Fredonia. Just like his dad, he was a master electrician.
John Fedyszyn is a man who served his country well. He continues to serve his country by writing his weekly articles on local veterans.
John spends many hours researching and writing these articles. John also worked tirelessly to get local veteran, Mike Gregoreski's name on the Vietnam Veterans In Memory Wall. Many of our veterans thank John, appreciate his stories and want his story to be told. We must say John E. Fedyszyn is our Hero. Thank you for your service!